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Cash and Coronavirus: Will Cryptocurrencies Benefit?

With the spread of the coronavirus around the world, many people are taking every precaution they can to minimize their risk of contracting the virus. And now the World Health Organization (WHO) has pinpointed one particular thing that has perhaps helped the virus spread so far and wide: cash.

We’ve probably all heard the stories of how cash is full of bacteria and foreign particles, from fecal particles to viruses to remnants of cocaine and other drugs. But no one ever really takes seriously the risk that cash poses in terms of contracting disease. Maybe now people will take the risks of cash seriously.

The WHO has recommended that people forgo cash as much as possible, and that they use contactless payment systems. Obviously those payment systems aren’t available everywhere, which is a problem. And while credit and debit cards aren’t necessarily going to spread disease like cash will, just imagine the germs on a credit card, then imagine how many thousands of cards are put into a card slot every day. That’s not to mention the necessity of punching in a PIN number, or of pressing OK on a touch screen. All it takes is one infected person to use a credit card terminal and hundreds or even thousands of people can subsequently get infected.

That’s one of the major advantages of cryptocurrencies, that most payments are contactless. Payments using cryptocurrencies can be made using near-field communications (NFC), or they can occur solely over an internet connection. But no matter the method, nothing has to change hands, nothing has to touch foreign objects, and payments can be made without picking up any germs.

Will cryptocurrencies benefit from the coronavirus? In the short term, the coronavirus will likely be too short-lived to drive a massive adoption of cryptocurrency payments. But in the long term, cryptocurrencies and the contactless payments they offer will likely become more popular and drive out cash payments among consumers and retailers, particularly those looking to minimize their exposure to future pandemic viruses.